This Air Force Jet Was Scrambled To Intercept A UFO – But Then Disappeared Without A Trace

It’s a stormy November evening in 1953, and somewhere in North America’s Great Lakes region, an unexpected object has just appeared on a U.S. Air Force radar screen. So, officials dispatch two airmen to take a closer look – and hopefully get to the bottom of this eerie mystery. But as the pair approach the anomaly aboard their aircraft, something truly unbelievable happens. And even decades on, the truth of the matter is murky.

First Lieutenant Felix Moncla was one of the men who took to the skies to investigate the unidentified flying object. And he wasn’t exactly wet behind the ears, either. Moncla was stationed at Truax Air Force Base in Madison, Wisconsin, and by November 1953 he’d clocked more than 800 hours of flying time.

So, Moncla’s superiors may have been confident that he’d succeed in his mission. Onboard a craft known as the F-89 Scorpion, the airman and Second Lieutenant Robert Wilson set off in pursuit of the unknown object. And before long, they began to close in, thousands of feet above the dark waters of the lake. But what happened next continues to defy explanation. Yes, it sparked a mystery that endures to this day.

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Simply put, Moncla, Wilson and their aircraft disappeared without a trace. It was a tragedy that their superiors struggled to explain. And over the years, the military has given wildly different accounts of what happened that fateful night. Is it the work of a government conspiracy, covering up the truth about a terrifying alien encounter? Or is the truth something a little more ordinary?

Well, let’s first judge the facts. The story began on the evening of November 23, 1953, at an Air Defense Command facility on the border between Canada and the U.S. The conditions weren’t exactly great for a mission, either. According to some reports, snow was falling, while other sources state that the weather was stormy. But whatever the truth, something unexpected occurred in the region just after 6 p.m.

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At around that time, an operator detected something unusual on the radar. Traveling through restricted airspace, an unknown entity appeared to be nearing the commercial hub of Soo Locks on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior. And most bafflingly of all, there were no American or Canadian craft cleared to be in the area at the time. Was this a UFO?

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Officials were puzzled, anyway, and so they scrambled an F-89 Scorpion jet that was temporarily stationed at Kinross Air Force Base – around 20 miles from Soo Locks. Normally, this plane was based some 400 miles away at Truax Air Force Base, although ultimately it would never make the journey back down south.

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Anyway, when the aircraft was relocated, Moncla and Wilson made the journey to Michigan. And the first lieutenant – a man with over 120 hours’ experience flying planes just like this one – was in the pilot’s seat. Initially on track to be a doctor, the 27-year-old had abandoned a career in medicine to join the military three years previously.

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On the evening of November 23, however, Moncla set off in search of the mysterious object. And with Wilson manning the radar equipment, the two were soon in hot pursuit. But the second lieutenant still struggled to keep track of the unknown craft, which appeared to dart swiftly from place to place.

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Thankfully, a radar operator on the ground was on hand to assist Moncla and Wilson as they gave chase. The operator watched the screen as one blip followed the other in a high-altitude game of cat and mouse, slowly descending from 25,000 feet to just 7,000 feet. Then, finally, it looked as though the F-89 was gaining ground.

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At a point some 70 miles off the Keweenaw Peninsula on the southern shore of the lake, Moncla and Wilson’s jet caught up with the unknown object. By that time, the airmen had tracked the unidentified craft for some 160 miles. But just as the mystery was about to be solved, something happened that no one could have predicted.

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According to witness reports, the two blips on the radar somehow locked together as one. Local Madison paper The Capital Times later tried to make sense of this bizarre occurrence, publishing an article that explained, “The Truax jet was followed on the radar screen at Kinross until its image merged with that of the plane it was checking.”

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After that, Moncla and Wilson’s jet seemed to disappear into thin air. Later, an official report would note that the F-89’s radar signal had simply vanished. And if that wasn’t strange enough, the blip representing the unknown craft veered off course before also dropping out of sight. But, while the situation was baffling, there was an obvious next step. The U.S. military therefore launched a search-and-rescue operation to track down the missing airmen.

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Naturally, there was an extensive search of the area by both boat and plane. But, rather incredibly, no sign of Moncla, Wilson or their F-89 was ever found. Both men, along with their jet, seemed to have completely disappeared off the face of the Earth. So, what exactly happened to the experienced pilot and his second-in-command?

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Well, as the U.S. Air Force had to give some form of explanation, an official press release was quickly fired off to the Associated Press. This included details that purportedly explained what had happened in the moments leading up to the disappearance. “[The F-89] was followed by radar until it merged with an object 70 miles off Keweenaw Point in upper Michigan,” the statement read. However, it wasn’t long before those in charge began to backtrack on this story.

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In a second statement, released shortly after the first, the U.S. Air Force retracted its initial claims. This time, officials downplayed the mystery, instead claiming that the radar operator had been mistaken. Now, the party line was that Moncla and Wilson had actually completed their mission, successfully intercepting the unidentified object.

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According to this second statement, the object was identified by Moncla and Wilson as a C-47 aircraft – also known as a Dakota – that belonged to the Royal Canadian Air Force. Allegedly, this craft had wandered some 30 miles off course, neatly explaining its unexpected appearance in restricted airspace. It was also claimed that the American airmen had only encountered trouble after their run-in with the other plane.

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Apparently, Moncla had been stricken by a fit of vertigo while returning to Kinross Air Force Base, and this medical emergency had then caused him to crash the jet into Lake Superior. But it wasn’t long before holes began to appear in this version of events, too. Over in Canada, officials pointed out that none of their planes had been in the vicinity at the time of the incident.

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After that, events grew murkier still. According to UFO researcher Donald Keyhoe, who wrote two books about the bizarre story, Moncla’s widow was visited by a couple of different representatives of the U.S. Air Force. One of these individuals is said to have claimed that the pilot had been flying at the incorrect altitude. If this was to be believed, the plane’s proximity to the lake had been the ultimate cause of the fatal crash.

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Curiously enough, though, the second representative told Moncla’s widow a completely contradictory story. In this version of events, the F-89 had exploded high in the air above Lake Superior. And in the midst of all this confusion, a rumor began to emerge. Had the airmen perhaps encountered something out of this world?

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Now, that theory may sound ridiculous on the surface, but for years Moncla and Wilson’s disappearance remained a mystery. The whereabouts of their ill-fated plane were completely unknown, too. And while reports emerged in 1968 that some wreckage – possibly belonging to a military jet – had been discovered on Lake Superior’s eastern shore, nobody has been able to verify these claims.

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So, what really happened to Moncla and Wilson that fateful night? Well, Keyhoe had his own suggestion. In his book The Flying Saucer Conspiracy, the writer speculated about the true cause of the airmen’s disappearance. And as you may have already guessed, Keyhoe surmised that the missing F-89 had been in pursuit of an alien craft.

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Keyhoe – himself a former Marine Corps aviator – recalled hearing a rumor at around the time that Moncla and Wilson had disappeared. Apparently, the story was that “an F-89 from Kinross was hit by a flying saucer.” When he investigated further, however, he received a different explanation. As the U.S. Air Force had asserted, a Canadian plane – not an alien craft – had been the catalyst for the incident.

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Despite this, some still believed that a UFO had somehow been involved in Moncla and Wilson’s disappearance. Adding fuel to the fire, Keyhoe allegedly obtained a copy of an official Air Force document regarding the case. And this evidence was compelling – reportedly including an interview with a witness who’d watched the incident play out on radar.

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The unnamed witness is claimed to have said, “It seems incredible, but the blip apparently just swallowed our F-89.” Yet that wasn’t all. Later, Keyhoe alleged to have discussed the incident with members of Project Blue Book – the official U.S. Air Force team dedicated to researching UFOs. And, apparently, individuals belonging to this special unit explained that the 1953 case was just one of many similar mysterious events.

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According to Keyhoe, some of those at Project Blue Book also believed that UFOs were extraterrestrial craft visiting Earth. Be that as it may, the team’s official report on what’s been dubbed the Kinross Incident continued to toe the line. Moncla and Wilson, the document stated, had perished in a crash – and there was no mention of any alien involvement.

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But the plot would thicken when researchers from the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) made yet another alarming discovery. Allegedly, the group contacted the Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center – only for the organization to deny that the Kinross Incident had ever happened. According to reports, officials at the center claimed, “There is no record in the Air Force files of any sighting at Kinross AFB on November 23, 1953… There is no case in the files which even closely parallels these circumstances.”

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Perhaps understandably, this evasiveness did little to quell suspicion surrounding the incident. And before long, amateur UFO hunters began to come up with their own ideas about what had happened to Moncla and Wilson’s jet. For example, maybe the two airmen had been abducted by the very craft that they’d been tracking?

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In this theory, the F-89 had been picked up mid-air by the object – an alien craft. Some even went as far as to speculate on the purpose behind such an abduction. Perhaps, they reasoned, the extraterrestrials wished to use Moncla and Wilson to brush up on their English skills?

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Then there was the suggestion that the strange vision in the sky had been a UFO protected by some kind of forcefield. When Moncla and Wilson’s F-89 unwittingly flew into the object, then, it would have been like hitting a solid wall. So, maybe the jet really had crashed – but not because of pilot error.

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As the years have passed by, however, Moncla and Wilson’s disappearance has remained a mystery. And although the case continues to attract attention, neither official nor amateur investigators have been able to uncover the truth. But, naturally, that hasn’t stopped users on forums such as Reddit from speculating about the strange incident.

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In one Reddit post, a user linked the disappearance to the mystery of the Great Lakes Triangle. An anomaly similar to the Bermuda Triangle, this region has allegedly seen a number of boats and planes vanish in strange circumstances over the years. It’s been said that there are high levels of iron ore in the area’s rocks, causing navigation equipment to go disastrously wrong.

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Unfortunately, though, there is a flaw in this theory. You see, the Great Lakes Triangle is traditionally located in Lake Michigan – some 250 miles south of where Moncla and Wilson disappeared. And if malfunctioning navigation equipment had indeed caused the crash, what was the other blip that had appeared on the radar at Kinross Air Force Base?

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Elsewhere, another commenter offered up a more prosaic explanation for the incident. They put forward the claim that the F-89 was a “tweak and go” model that had involved a lot of trial and error – and fallen prey to a number of fatal accidents. Perhaps, the Redditor reasoned, Moncla and Wilson had been the victims of a more predictable crash.

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Well, while this explanation may seem a logical one, it doesn’t account for the origin of the mysterious blip on the radar screen. And although the Reddit user suggested that such signals can be caused by more mundane objects such as a flock of birds, a trained operator should have been able to tell the difference between avian life and an unknown craft.

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However, as both UFO enthusiasts and skeptics continued to speculate online, there was another interesting development in the case. In 2006 a Canadian newspaper called the Pembroke Observer published a detailed article about the Kinross Incident, calling it “one of the most enduring mysteries of the Great Lakes.” Then, soon after that, Francis Ridge, a prominent researcher of flying saucers, received a strange email.

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Reportedly, the email contained a snippet of text purporting to be from a news story. Allegedly released by the Associated Press, the article announced that Moncla and Wilson’s jet had been found at the bottom of Lake Superior by a team of divers. There was also a link to the website of the group responsible, the Great Lakes Dive Company, within the message.

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And as news of the apparent discovery began to spread, a spokesperson for the group named Adam Jimenez gave interviews to reporters. Underwater photographs published on the Great Lakes Dive Company’s website appeared to support its claims, too. Then the story took an elaborate turn. Supposedly, the divers had also discovered wreckage of a UFO alongside the remains of the F-89.

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For the UFO enthusiasts who’d been tracking the Kinross Incident, this development must have seemed too good to be true. And, alas, it seems that indeed it was. As researchers continued to dig into the story, it quickly fell apart. Apparently, there was no evidence that the Great Lakes Dive Company had ever existed. Before long, Jimenez disappeared, too, leading most observers to conclude that the discovery had been a hoax.

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Since then, there have been no new leads on Moncla and Wilson’s disappearance, and so the world is no closer to knowing what happened above Lake Superior that stormy night. But there could still be a twist in the tale. In 2020 the Pentagon reignited the conversation about UFOs by releasing previously classified footage featuring unknown aerial phenomena. So, could some top-secret files in government archives hold the key to the truth about the Kinross Incident? Only time will tell.

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It’s up to you to decide whether the two men were abducted by an alien aircraft – until we discover the truth, anyway. If you’re a bona fide skeptic, though, you may be surprised to hear that a real-life flying saucer actually exists. Yes, you read that correctly.

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In August 2019 sensational footage of an actual flying saucer was uploaded to YouTube – and understandably went viral. This real-life UFO looks every bit the sci-fi staple, after all, and is supposedly capable of flying in all directions while pulling off incredible speeds and expert maneuvers. But even though this man-made craft might look ready to explore the universe, that’s not exactly what its creators have in mind.

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The disk – officially known as an All Directions Flying Object (ADIFO) – is the invention of engineer Razvan Sabie and aerodynamicist Iosif Taposu, who are both from Romania. The latter definitely has the chops for this sort of project, too – if his résumé is anything to go by. Once a senior scientist at Romania’s National Institute for Aerospatiale Research, Taposu is now in fact head of Theoretical Aerodynamics at the National Aviation Institute.

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Yet it was Sabie who, in August 2019, explained the work that went into the ADIFO in an interview with Vice. The engineer said, “The aerodynamics behind this aircraft is the result of more than two decades of work and is very well reasoned in hundreds of pages and confirmed by computer simulations and wind tunnel tests.” And, as we mentioned earlier, there’s now even footage to prove it.

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The YouTube clip, uploaded by the account Tech World, actually shows the flying saucer hovering and performing vertical take-offs. And according to the ADIFO’s inventors, the inspiration behind the recognizable design wasn’t done to mimic UFOs – rather, it has more organic origins. Yet it’s hard to ignore the fact that the disk will now join the eye-opening history of alien-like crafts on planet Earth.

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Amazingly, you see, UFO sightings have been recorded since the time of ancient Egypt. Yes, there’s actually a Tulli Papyrus transcription that claims a pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty called Thutmose III had seen “fiery disks” hovering in the skies. And what’s more, at least five official sightings were also recorded during the Roman era.

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The alleged UFO sightings during Roman times included airborne craft spotted in the skies above Rome in 218 B.C. and a silvery object, shaped like a storage jar, hovering above what is now Turkey. Then, between the 16th and 19th centuries, several instances of aerial phenomenon were recorded – in sites located everywhere from the United States to Japan. And in the following century, the claims began to stack up.

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In fact, UFO sightings really started to pick up in the 1940s, during World War II. Some Allied pilots even described seeing circular, glowing objects in their vicinities during the conflict’s aerial battles. A number of them apparently observed fiery globes, while others claimed that they came across orange, white or red orbs. But, according to the eyewitnesses, these things weren’t just floating there.

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You see, the airmen claimed that these “foo fighters” – as the unidentified objects were called – seemed to be playing with the Allied pilots. The UFOs reportedly even dashed around completing wild maneuvers and then simply disappeared. Witnesses further said that the supposed UFOs appeared to be intelligently controlled – but never hostile. And these events paved the way for a decades-long run of sightings.

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In 1947, for instance, the term “flying saucer” accidentally came into being after a reported UFO sighting in the skies above Washington. Kenneth Arnold, who was out piloting his private plane at the time, said that he had seen a group of around nine crescent-shaped craft flying at the speed of several thousand miles an hour “like saucers skipping on water.” Then, in a subsequent newspaper article, the UFOs were erroneously described as saucer-shaped – and the name was born.

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Yet soon after the Washington incident came possibly the most famous of all UFO sightings. This time, though, the alleged alien aircraft was discovered after having supposedly crashed. Found by W. W. “Mac” Brazel, a local rancher, the wreckage lay close to a military base in the New Mexico town of Roswell. What was left of the “craft” was reportedly 600 feet long – but could it have been a real UFO?

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Well, the local newspapers subsequently reported the wreckage near the Roswell airfield as an alien aircraft – though the U.S. military disagreed. According to an official statement, in fact, the craft was nothing more than a downed weather balloon. Photographs of the wreckage printed in the papers seemed to contradict that stance, however, and it would be decades before the truth finally came to light.

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Fifty years after the discovery of the wreckage in Roswell, you see, the U.S. military finally came clean about its purpose. It turned out that the craft had been built for Project Mogul – a classified operation aiming to collect information about Soviet nuclear testing. This had been done by attaching microphones capable of detecting sound waves from atomic explosions to high-altitude balloons.

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And while Project Mogul had had some success, the cost – along with the introduction of air sampling methods and seismic detectors – had led to it being shut down. But this explanation obviously came too late to stop the flow of conspiracy theories that surrounded the Roswell incident. Only a few years later, for instance, another event pushed the UFO debate to the fore once again.

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Yes, alien conspiracies increased following another alleged sighting in Roswell in the 1950s. This time, though, witnesses claimed to have seen bodies with aluminum bones and latex skin falling from the sky. So, had extra-terrestrials actually landed in New Mexico?

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Well, probably not. Yet for some, those supposed alien bodies in the desert in New Mexico were indeed proof of extra-terrestrial existence. And the military’s hasty retrieval of them only fed rumors of a government cover-up. So, for those who didn’t believe the explanation for the 1947 Roswell wreckage, this latest incident only further convinced them of an other-worldly presence on the planet. But the military had a very different explanation for the strange occurrence.

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The official response was that the bodies were not alien corpses but were, in fact, dummies. It was also claimed that these mannequins were used to discover whether pilots could survive falling from planes. But this explanation did little to quell enthusiasm for all things extra-terrestrial – and sightings continued to increase.

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And it seems that even the U.S. military itself wasn’t immune to the UFO mania. In 1948, after all, the U.S. Air Force decided to investigate the phenomena of unidentified flying objects. But with the Cold War now in full swing, the government had very different theories for what the crafts were.

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Inevitably, then, the U.S. military had only one likely explanation as far as UFOs were concerned – and it wasn’t aliens. For them, the source of the flying saucers was clear: it was the Soviet Union. This Cold War foe was, the government believed, sending sophisticated aircraft to gather data on America.

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Yet clearly, any unidentified aircraft flying in the U.S. is a worry. So in 1948 Project Sign came in to being. Its aim was to test the belief that the UFOs were indeed Soviet spy planes. There were, however, some researchers who reportedly thought it was entirely possible that aliens were behind the flying saucers. And that’s why the so-called Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis was also put to the test.

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Project Sign then became Project Grudge, and in 1952 the investigation was replaced by Project Blue Book. Under this new moniker, in fact, the study would go on to become the longest-running official inquiry into UFOs. Lasting nearly two decades, the probe showed just how seriously the issue was taken at the time.

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Between 1952 and 1969, for instance, Project Blue Book assembled over 12,000 reported UFO sightings. And after investigations, those claims were then placed into one of two categories: “identified” or “unidentified.” The former category included reports that could be explained by man-made, atmospheric or astronomical events. That latter classification, though, was for the six percent of sightings for which there was no apparent explanation.

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Around the time that Project Blue Book got off the ground, though, the U.S. government decided to launch its own UFO probe. In 1953, you see, a panel consisting of an astronomer, multiple physicists and a rocket scientist convened to investigate the extra-terrestrial phenomena. The group then spent three days looking at Project Blue Book’s results, interviewing military personnel and reviewing photographs and films supposedly showing UFOs.

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The panel concluded that most of the reported sightings, around 90 percent in fact, were easily explainable. These reports were attributed to, among other things, ion clouds, bright planets, meteors, planes, balloons and lights. The panel also reasoned that the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis therefore had no support in evidence.

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These conclusions, however, did little to dampen UFO fever, and in 1966 the U.S. military requested another government review, in order to further analyze Project Blue Book’s findings. This time, though, a committee spent two years looking at its conclusions, fielding 37 researchers to intensely study 59 specific sightings.

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Despite the interest in these cases, though, the committee found again that the UFO sightings were the result of everyday phenomena. They also recommended no further investigation into the reports. And these findings, coupled with a reduction in alleged sightings, led to Project Blue Book’s closure in 1969.

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The official closure of Project Blue Book didn’t see the end of UFO investigations, though. That’s because private citizens took up the cause instead. And one of them, J. Allen Hynek – once a scientist on the government committee – set up the Center for UFO Studies in 1973. Yet while that Chicago-based organization continues its probes, two European scientists have been building their own flying saucer.

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So, as we’ve touched upon, the ADIFO craft might look a UFO, but its design actually has a far more organic origin. The circular shape is, in fact, based on an airfoil – a fin located on a dolphin’s back that helps the mammal glide through water. This design therefore gives the saucer the ability to safely move between supersonic speeds, the engineers claim, and lowers the chance of shockwaves on the surface of the disk. But the advantages reportedly don’t stop there.

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The ADIFO is also incredibly agile, boasts a pair of jet engines and operates like a quad copter, thanks to the four ducted fans on the bottom that launch the craft into the air. And, according to its inventors, the ADIFO’s unique shape means it is well-placed to achieve supersonic speeds without the usual sonic boom that accompanies moving faster than the speed of light.

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According to the video uploaded to YouTube, the ADIFO could also be used for military purposes. In the clip, you see, the narrator explains, “[It] can be used as an unmanned aerial vehicle, unmanned combat aerial vehicle or even a fighter aircraft, due to its… hypermaneuverability… and very low rate of signature.” And if the ADIFO really can quietly transition to supersonic speeds, it could become the ideal craft for espionage too.

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The ADIFO team have also argued that it could become a manned craft – if future manufacturers were to install a jet and an electric hybrid propulsion system into it. But it isn’t just these Romanian scientists who are looking into the military applications for such a plane.

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In 2017, in fact, the United States Navy was granted a patent for a new aircraft that can supposedly perform many actions that ADIFO’s plane claims to do. Plus, the navy’s craft can also supposedly fly underwater and in space. The craft will also have “enhanced stealth capabilities,” according to the patent application.

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The patent filing further stated that the plane will be “enclosed in a vacuum plasma bubble/sheath.” The U.K. newspaper Metro added that the craft “features a cavity wall filled with gas, which is then made to vibrate using powerful electromagnetic waves. This then creates a vacuum around the craft, allowing it to propel itself at high speeds.” But how any of this works in reality remains to be seen; just because a design has been granted a patent doesn’t mean it has been built and tested yet.

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And if you think all of this sounds bizarre, you’re not alone. As Nick Pope, ex-UFO investigator for the British government, told Metro in April 2019, “It’s sometimes hard to tell where the boundary lies between fringe science and science fiction.” Given that there is other research into cloaking, warp drives and anti-gravity measures, it’s hard to disagree.

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Pope continued, “Even if the theoretical physics turns out to be sound, aeronautical engineers will still have to build something if this [patent] is to have any tangible effect. If they have built the technology described in the patents, I’m sure the program is highly classified. The bottom line is that if any of this works, we’re in game-changing territory.”

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This isn’t the first time that the U.S. government has tried to build its own UFO-style aircraft, however. Believe it or not, during the 1950s the U.S. military actually commissioned a flying saucer-inspired ship that was hoped to become as ubiquitous as the jeep.

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And U.S. policymakers held the project, which hoped to be utilized to transport troops, in high regard at the time. The website Messy Nessy Chic even claimed that when Air Force Dynamics Lab engineer Bernard Lindenbaum approached Washington to request funding for improvements to helicopters, he was told that research into those craft would soon cease. In the future, Lindenbaum was apparently informed, the military would run on this new form of transport, known as the Avrocar.

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The Avrocar was the brainchild of British engineer Jack Frost and began life in the early 1950s. Working for the Special Projects department of aircraft manufacturer Avro Canada, Frost actually managed to convince the U.S. military that not only was travel by flying saucer theoretically possible – but that he could also make it a reality. However, the two craft that he subsequently built didn’t quite work the way that they should have done.

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Despite the teething issues, though, the Avrocar was ready for testing in 1959. And while the craft did indeed leave the ground, it couldn’t get any higher than about three feet – not an ideal altitude for any flying vehicle. According to those piloting the Avrocar, the heat in the cockpit was also unbearable, and its top speed was just 35 miles per hour.

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But the problems didn’t end there, because the Avrocar also emitted a horrific screeching sound while in operation. Unsurprisingly, then, in 1961 funding for the project stopped. One of the planes later ended up at the Cold War Gallery in the National Museum of the United States Air Force, while the other was apparently put in storage by the military in 2002.

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So, as we have seen, flying saucer-style aviation is still a work in progress. And yet the engineers behind the ADIFO project in Romania are bullish about their prototype, with Sabie telling Wired magazine that it’s “the peak of the iceberg.” He added that two government entities, venture funds, one large aircraft manufacturer and at least ten possible partners have expressed interest in the technology. But with the U.S. military hot on their heels with similar aircraft of its own, time will tell who will present the first fully functioning UFO-style planes to the world.

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